Our Back Porch and Back Yard are Like 2 More Rooms of Our House in the Summer (Featuring American Plastic Toys)

This makes the 3rd summer we’ve spent in our house since it was built, yet it’s the 1st summer we’ve really made an effort as a family to utilize those 2 forsaken “rooms” of our house: the back porch and the back yard.

It’s becoming the norm these days that, as a family, we end up hanging out there under the blue sky, with the soybean field in sight right over the fence. My one year-old daughter loves it when I take her out there just to watch the robins fly by. She points to the sky, “Wuh? Wuh?”

I then confirm, “Yes, birds. Birds.”

While we were on vacation in Florida last week, American Plastic Toys sent our family some samples of their outdoor sports equipment for kids. (And yes, these products are actually made in America.)

So this past Saturday morning, we finally were able to break out the new outdoor sports toys and have some fun.

We made our way out onto the lawn so my son could hit some home runs. I forget how big our lawn actually is, but playing baseball helped put our “field” to use.

Our back porch transformed into a golf course, as our son wanted to refine his skills for the next time we visit a putt-putt place. Eventually, our golf game transitioned in to a hockey match, as our son is quite aware of the Nashville Predators. Before he was ready to move on, though, he also engaged me in a sword fight, using the golf clubs.

Summer is on its way. I want make sure we make good use of the great outdoors, especially when they are literally right outside the back door.

As for my daughter, she’s happy just to watch her big brother play, as she uses our back porch as a training facility for learning to walk.

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Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

40 weeks (due date).

Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

Dear Holly,

The day is still young, but I’m writing this letter to you now, the morning of your due date. You may or may not be born today. Meanwhile, you have many family members and our friends anxiously awaiting your arrival.

With Grandma in town, and Mommy beginning maternity leave this week, I couldn’t help but notice Mommy is so “nesting” right now.

I helped Mommy move the furniture around in the living room, for a new design that will better cater to your arrival; plus still provide plenty of play room for Jack. We decided we actually like our new layout better than how we had it before.

When I got home from work yesterday, Mommy showed me the really cool retro clock (and accompanying sign) she bought to fill the wall space since we changed the furniture. It really fits the space well. Plus, she bought a blanket to decorate the back of the couch.

Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

She also bought some perfect décor for outside in our yard, to further invite birds; since they have been hanging out without us even trying.

So we might as well make it official that we want birds, and bunnies, there in our yard.

Dear Holly: I Want Mommy to Go into Labor Tomorrow Night

Not to mention, this weekend Mommy and I cleaned out our cars and officially installed your car seats, right next to Jack’s; while I played Bob Marley’s greatest hits on my old cracked iPod from 2007. Meanwhile, your brother Jack played in the garage with his toys. It’s weird because we rarely hang out as a family in front of our house.

I realize there’s no way to fully prepare for a new baby, but I feel we’ve done the most we can on our end.

For months now we have been preparing our home for you, which is your home as well.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Mommy’s Now in Her 3rd Trimester/We’ve Been in our New House a Year

Dear Holly: Mommy’s Now in Her 3rd Trimester/We’ve Been in our New House a Year

28 weeks.

Dear Holly,

Yesterday evening as Mommy was preparing dinner, she pointed out that you were tucked all the way over to her right side.

It was undeniable. There was no doubt her tummy was lopsided.

She explained to me when she was pregnant with your brother Jack nearly 6 years ago, he was always sitting on her ribs; way up high.

But you, you’re so low; that’s not a problem with you.

As of today, Mommy is officially in her 3rd trimester with you. She is 66% through her pregnancy with you. In less than 3 months, less than 90 days, you should be here.

It’s funny to think that a year ago this week, our family moved into our new house.

Life is at such a great pace now: We live way back in the suburbs. We have a garage. We live in a cul-de-sac near a park.

Those are things I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate. Being able to work our way of debt a few years ago and save up for the down payment on our house was totally worth the discipline and sacrifice.

We knew at the time when we moved in our new house, that at some point in the next few years, we might have another child.

But just 6 months into life in our new home with 4 bedrooms, something just finally clicked:

One of those rooms is for another child.

And so of course now, that guest room has now been converted into your nursery and bedroom.

I’ve mentioned before how supposedly age 34 is the best year of your life. That’s how old Mommy and I both are.

We are so happy to know that you are on your way. You are wanted. You will be loved.

I can’t guarantee that you will be born into the most normal of families, but I can tell you this: We’re going to have a lot of fun!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We Put Up Our “Clip-On Tie” Christmas Tree on October 25th

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: We Put Up Our “Clip-On Tie” Christmas Tree on October 25th

Dear Jack,

This past weekend, exactly two months before Christmas, our family bought our first official artificial Christmas tree. I call in our “clip-on tie” Christmas tree.

I am very pleased with it. Not only did we only pay $30 for it by the time we used our Lowe’s coupon, but the tree came pre-lit!

It’s no secret that while I am gifted in the creative department, I am completely bankrupt when it comes to mechanical skills.

But there was nothing complicated about assembling this tree. I just took it out of the box and stuck it in its stand.

The tree came in two halves with a connected cord for the lights. So I just simply spread out the twigs like a fan and was done.

In the 7 years Mommy and I have been married, we never really bothered to get a little Christmas tree since we lived in a townhouse and opened the presents at Nonna and Papa’s house anyway.

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Things changed this year, though. We have our own real house.

Romantically Mommy and I liked the idea of a real tree, but Mommy didn’t like the idea of the mess it would bring in our new house, and I didn’t like the idea of having to set it up.

So a 4 and a half foot tall “clip-on” tie version of a Christmas tree ended up being the perfect fit for our family.

As I was taking care of the tree, Mommy was wrapping the gifts for our extended family, while listening to traditional Christmas music on YouTube.

Christmas is about 2 months away, but our tree is up and the gifts are bought and wrapped.

With all the inevitable upcoming holiday clichés, like “the hustle and bustle of Christmas,” this is our family’s attempt to get ahead of the stress.

We are ready for Christmas!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: 6 Months of Living in Our New House

4 years, 8 months.

h1

Dear Jack,

As they say… time flies when you’re having fun.

h2

That must be why it definitely doesn’t feel like we’ve been living in our new house for 6 months.

A week ago made 6 months that we began moving in our stuff and began sleeping there; but it took a solid week after that before it felt like we truly living there and not simply still moving in.

h3

As of today, I wanted to document what our house looked like at this point in history; so I walked around room to room, taking pictures.

h4

One of my proudest decisions in staging our house is that we purposely don’t have a TV downstairs in the living room. It’s important to me that conversation is not stolen in our house.

h5

If I could come up with a theme for our house, it would be this: Quality time.

That’s so important. We have to make the most of our time together despite our busy schedules as individuals.

h6

As you read this years from now, I want you to hear me say this once again:

We worked very hard to get into this house.

h7

It required paying off all our debts (including cars and student loans), then living by an extremely strict budget (including no smart phones), in order to start saving for the down payment on our house.

h8

Something that was very important to Mommy and me was to make sure we raise you (as well as any future siblings) in a good school system. To do that, we had to move to the “right” county: Williamson.

h9

We pour our lives into you. We want the best for you. Being able to live in this house makes me feel like our family is exactly where we need to be.

h10

Living in this house has truly made us happy, content, and at peace. Our quality of life has never been better.

h11

But again, this wasn’t handed to us.

h12

And it’s not simply about how much money you make, as much as it is how you manage the money you do make. We worked very hard to get here… and still do.

Love,

Daddy

h13

Dear Jack: Mother’s Day 2015/Adirondack Chairs

4 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack: Mother's Day 2015

Dear Jack,

This year for Mother’s Day, Mommy decided she wanted a new ceramic cup for her coffee she makes each morning, some Adirondack chairs for our porch, and quality time as a family.

So that’s exactly what we made happen this weekend.

We started off with your next-to-the-last soccer game of the season…

Dear Jack: Mother's Day 2015

Then we had a fun lunch at Whole Foods, where they were having a special promotion in which 100% of the proceeds went to benefit the victims of Nepal; since their recent earthquake.

Mommy and I really enjoyed our vegan hot dogs the workers grilled for us!

Dear Jack: Mother's Day 2015

After your nap back at the house, you and I practiced our shooting into the lot across their street where they are building one of the last houses of our immediate neighborhood.

Dear Jack: Mother's Day 2015

Then, we all just hung out on the front porch. Mommy and I enjoyed the new Adirondack chairs, while you were perfectly content to play in your newly purchased (with your birthday money from last November) sand box.

So it sounds like Mommy got just what she wanted for Mother’s Day this year.

Not to mention, you and I made this little video for her…

 

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The 1st Month Of Living In Our New House

4 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

Dear Jack,

It was January 29th, more than 5 weeks ago, that we closed on our new house and began moving our stuff in. The next day, we slept in our new house for the first time.

Dear Jack: The 1st Month Of Living In Our New House

I didn’t plan to start chronicling each week in our new house the way I’ve done with my letters to you for the past (nearly) 5 years, but it’s just turned out that way (since these posts about our new house have proven to remain very popular among readers).

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

At this point, we’re obviously settled in our new life, in our new house. Other than finishing up hanging some wall decorations, and waiting on our new sofa to arrive next Saturday, we’re pretty much past the moving in stage.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

This past Saturday, it was finally warm enough outside for you and me to go out and play together for the first time in our cul-de-sac. For the past couple of weeks since the big freeze, you had been asking to go play where the neighbors’ remaining snowman is on the sidewalk.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

You have collected a decent number of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars that served as great snowplows. In fact, one of them even buried St. Peter in the snow! Fortunately, a dinosaur helped save him, as the shark from Finding Nemo watched from above.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

From there, we finally got to walk along the sidewalk trail along the woods, which circles around to our cul-de-sac.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended…

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

Sit on a broken tree, throw huge rocks…

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

And even go “fishing”…

Before we headed back to our house, you made a “Mintacinno” out of some things you found on the ground as we walked together.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

It’s still currently melting on our front porch right now.

I should also point out this was the week in history in which you obtained “Blueberry”, a new stuffed animal that Mommy and I let you get after your marble set we got you for Christmas got broken in the move.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

Blueberry means a lot to you; it’s quite evident. I was surprised you actually let me name your new bear.

It’s funny because actually Blueberry it’s one of those “My First Bears,” designed for newborns.

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee

You don’t see it that way.

As for your new school, Rainbow Child Care Center, things couldn’t be better. Here’s a note I got from your teacher this week:

Hi Nick!

Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working! He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself). He used paint to decorate his building.He also made an “octopus monster” with Styrofoam.
-Ms. Aimee

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee

It’s been a great first month! This move has been a great thing for us. New house, new school, and a new version of life.

And, thanks to your teacher Ms. Aimee letting us know about it, we ended up buying tickets for the Repticon (reptile exhibition) in Franklin, TN next weekend!

Oh yes, pictures will follow…

Love,

Daddy

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee